Long-time incumbent Ray Carroll is not seeking another term as a Pima County supervisor, leaving an open seat representing the east-side District 4.
When Carroll decided it was time for him to exit, he threw his support behind Republican Steve Christy, a former car dealer who faces Green Party opponent Josh Reilly. Both are critical of the county’s leadership.
Christy says it’s time for the supervisors to stop deferring to the county administrator.
“They seem very compliant and willing to go along with what [County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry] sets as his priorities, and there doesn’t seem to be any deliberation, any questioning, any study sessions,” he said.
He points out that county administrators work for the Board of Supervisors, and so thinks “it’s incumbent upon the board to take a much more active and proactive role in setting the agenda, and making the decisions and setting the priorities.”
Reilly says he, too, has a problem with county leadership. His top issue is ending political cronyism in Pima County.
“There’s a lot of money being spent by the politically connected to maintain the status quo,” Reilly said.
He cites Christy’s fundraising for this race. The latest campaign finance information shows Christy raised about $177,000 for his campaign, while Reilly filed a report stating he will not raise more than $500 in the election cycle.
The Green Party candidate also says the top county employee is an example of cronyism.
“Our county administrator, Chuck Huckelberry, he’s the second-highest paid administrator nationwide – second only to the county administrator in L.A. County,” Reilly said. “Yet, 20 percent of the population in Pima County falls below the federal poverty line.”
Christy says a lack of leadership is again evident regarding economic development, often cited as a way to bring up the median income and add jobs. He says the county has taken heat for some bad development ideas and that he would have “taken more time, looked at the contracts a little differently, had more study sessions, been more transparent, received more public input into the whole process.”
Reilly has several ideas for programs in Pima County and says he would fund them with new forms of taxes. He opposes property and sales taxes.
“It’s unconscionable that, again, 20 percent, nearly, of our population falls below the federal poverty line, and then sales and property taxes are our major funding sources at the county level,” Reilly said. “Those are both regressive taxes. People who are living on fixed incomes and people who are making $8.05 an hour, the current minimum wage, they just can’t keep up.”
He says the state should allow a graduated income tax for county funding. One area to benefit would be roads. The county has hundreds of millions of dollars in unmet road needs.
Christy, who served on the Regional Transportation Authority’s board, proposes expanding the RTA to pay for road repairs with a sales tax that now covers road-widening projects. Reilly has reiterated that he does not support additional sales taxes.
“Right now I don’t think that would be the best approach because the public approved one thing and now you’d be going back and having them approve a change to that,” Christy said.
Reilly’s road plans include using recycled pavement, adding bike lanes and installing more water-reclamation sewers. Christy says there’s not enough money to look at those things, yet.
“Some 60-70 percent of roads in Pima County are at a failing level. To use those materials I would question whether they’re effective, if they’re what is called for in road repair. I would prefer the transportation experts to be the ones to decide,” Christy said.
District 4 voters range geographically from Green Valley to Mount Lemmon and include Vail and Tucson’s east side.